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I’m super-excited to bring you this interview with Abby. She blogs over at Waiting for Our “Baby Mine.” I love her heart for spreading awareness and her photos that show it’s possible to keep a sense of humor during IVF. I know you’ll enjoy this interview as much as I did. (Note: Abby mentions her successful IVF cycle and her pregnancy. Please be aware of this if you’re not in a good place to read about that right now).
Q. Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Abby. First and foremost, I’m a Christian trying to live my life in pursuit of a heavenly home. I’m a wife to Thomas—a calm, caring fireman who is my absolute best friend and helpmeet. I’m a cat lady- a fur mom to four crazy sister cats. I work in special education and love to write. My family means the world to me, especially my niece and two nephews. I love all things Disney and even married my husband at Disney World!
Q. How long have you been trying to conceive and what issues are you facing?
My TTC road is complicated because it was a long road that lead to the point of even being able to try to conceive. My journey began when I was 19 years old, when I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis after months of going undiagnosed and being treated with narcotics for the pain. Once I was diagnosed, I had four minimally invasive surgeries within 3 1/2 years to try and keep the endometriosis under control. No matter what I tried, surgery was the only thing that could relieve my pain—and even that only lasted 9-10 months.
After my fourth surgery, three months after I had married Thomas, we were told that we immediately needed to have children or it was time for a hysterectomy. Because we both figured this was coming due to scar tissue build up and because we both have always desired to be parents, we accepted the reality that we were facing and started to try and start our family.
Three months into trying, we knew something wasn’t right. At month four, we called my reproductive endocrinologist and decided together that we needed to be proactive because otherwise, I’d be needing surgery in six months, yet again.
We began fertility treatments in January of 2017. We went through two regularly medicated IUIs, but I had no reaction to Clomid whatsoever. We did two IUIs with injections, and I became pregnant from the fourth attempt, in May 2017. However, four days after finding out I was pregnant, I miscarried our May baby. We took a month off to let my body recover and began the initial tests to see if we were candidates for IVF. Continue reading “Abby’s Infertility Story”
A reader recently emailed me and asked, “What are you going to do with your leftover embryos? We are confused as what to do with ours.”
A. Can I be honest with you all? This is the blog post I have been avoiding writing for over two years.
The short answer to the question is this: We don’t know what we will do with our eight “leftover” embryos.
Our first two IVF cycles were disasters. Most of our eggs successfully fertilized, but we had problems with the embryos dying off before we could transfer them. We transferred poor quality embryos each time, and they all failed.
So imagine our surprise when we made it to Day 5 of our third IVF cycle with one beautiful, high-quality embryo to transfer and EIGHT more good-to-average quality embryos that froze. This cycle resulted in the birth of our daughter and of course, we were overjoyed.
But the thing I don’t talk about much- because it’s such an emotional, complicated decision- is what to do with those eight embryos.
The plan was to use them to try for Baby #2. Well, it turns out Baby #2 is shockingly and miraculously coming the old-fashioned way for us. My first thought when I saw that positive on the home pregnancy test was, “What about the embryos?”
Honestly, the odds are that we still would have ended up with “leftover” embryos even if we had used some for Baby #2. However, it makes the decision of what to do with them even more intense because of the extra amount we have.
The options are few and they each have their downsides.
1) We could use the embryos to try for Baby #3. This is something we will consider. I am getting my tubes tied when Baby #2 is born to ensure no more “surprises.” But I will be 37 when Baby #2 is born. By the time I recover from that, get pregnant again (maybe), and give birth, I would be at least 39. No, it’s not old, but I’m also not sure that’s for me. And realistically, we would still probably end up with “leftover” embryos. And anything more than three children is definitely off the table.
2) We could discard the leftover embryos. This would be difficult for us. If you had asked me 5 years ago when I believe life begins, I would’ve responded with the standard Evangelical answer: “At conception.” However, going through IVF has caused me to question that response. We lost over a dozen embryos in the process of IVF- mostly between Days 3 and 5. Do I believe all those embryos were babies and are now waiting to meet me in heaven? If I’m being honest, no. (No disrespect to those of you who DO hold that view).
My IVF experience has shifted my thinking more towards believing that life begins at implantation. Of course, I am not 100% sure… it’s just where I lean. The whole issue is theologically complicated and I’ve read arguments for both views. I am not a theologian.
At the very least, I see un-transferred / un-implanted embryos as POTENTIAL for life and feel they should be treated with utmost respect. And I’m not sure that discarding them allows for that. (Again, no disrespect or judgment to any of you who have discarded embryos. My goal here is to share my personal beliefs and values- not condemn the actions of others).
3) We could donate them to science and research. While I see the incredible potential for scientific advancement (and the potential for helping other infertile couples in the process), most of my hesitation about this option has to do with the same reasons I hesitate to discard.
4) We could do nothing and freeze them indefinitely. I don’t mean put the decision off for a year or two. I mean never making a decision and leaving it up to my next-of-kin to make the decision after I die. To me, this is extremely irresponsible and borders on unethical.
5) We could donate them to another couple. Embryo donation / adoption is an incredible thing and I know of so many people who have been blessed to receive an embryo. I have nothing but admiration and awe for couples who are donate their embryos to another couple.
But I also have questions and hesitations about the emotional effects on myself, my husband, my existing children, my parents (my children’s grandparents), and any children that may be born as a result of the donation. I have searched the internet far and wide for emotional resources for couples who are contemplating a donation and I have found nothing. I’ve even emailed heads of large embryo donation/adoption organizations asking for resources and no one has responded.
Where that leaves us now…
I only know that I wish I’d had a clearer idea of the life-altering decisions we’d be required to make. It was so easy to get bogged down in JUST GETTING PREGNANT that we didn’t look at the whole picture and think ahead.
Do I regret doing IVF? Not for a second.
Am I trying to scare you from doing it, too? No way.
Do I wish I had thought about all this earlier and perhaps have made different decisions about how many eggs we allowed to be fertilized? Maybe. I don’t know. It’s hard to say something like that when I’m looking at my two-year old IVF miracle in her crib via the baby monitor.
So you can see that this decision is fraught with moral, spiritual, and emotional issues. I plan on writing more about it as we pray, see counsel, do research, and go through the decision-making process in the coming year or two.
My goal is not to get you to think like I do, or make the same decision I do, but to bring readers to an awareness of the questions you will be facing when you do IVF.
I welcome your (respectful) thoughts and comments.
P.S. I realize I am in an EXTREMELY fortunate situation to even be having this dilemma. So many of you are having trouble getting any embryos at all. You have my love, my support, my encouragement, and my hope.
Needless to say, we were shocked. I almost passed out when I took the home test. The only reason I even took one was so I could stop thinking that maybe I was pregnant. Because after all, I’d never seen a positive home test so why would this one be any different if we weren’t even trying? My husband didn’t believe it and made me take four different tests.
I will save you the details, but two betas later that week confirmed the pregnancy and I am now currently almost 10 weeks.
Honestly, one of the first thoughts that came to mind was, “How will I tell those who are still waiting?” Because it doesn’t seem fair. So many times I was on the other side the screen reading words like I’m writing. Just wondering when it would be my turn. Rolling my eyes at people who “weren’t even trying.” And yet here I am.
We are overjoyed and thrilled, of course. Yet there is also an awkwardness. A feeling of survivor’s guilt, almost. I have talked to some other women who have found themselves in similar situations and they experienced similar feelings. (I’m not asking for sympathy, of course, but just trying to be honest about the mix of emotions that pregnancy after infertility brings).
I set private messages to many of you over the past few days, giving you a heads-up so this blog post wasn’t a complete surprise. If you feel like you should’ve received one of those private messages from me but didn’t, please accept my apologies. You weren’t left out intentionally.
As it was with my IVF pregnancy, this won’t change anything about my blog. This will not become a mom blog. I will not post bump pictures or ultrasound pictures. I may post brief updates occasionally, but I’ll always give a warning at the beginning of the post. This will remain a space whose main purpose is to encourage women who are waiting.
Much love and hugs to those of you who are still waiting. I understand if you need to move on from this blog, but I pray those of who stay will continue to find hope and encouragement.